Instagram, or better said Instagram users love beautiful images. They love cool, moody filters, interesting angles, unique typography, anything that’s not “the usual” boring shot. And by looking at some of the most popular Instagram accounts, you notice a few patterns that attract the most engagement.
So you ask yourself, how do they come up with those filters? What apps do they use to saturate colors just the right amount? And how long does it take to get such interesting (and effective) images?
In most cases, it’s a mix of a few apps that do the trick. In this article, I’m going to share with you a few of these apps that will help you get amazing results.
Following is a list of steps and apps to help you take the shot, prettify it with cool edits & filters and add cool design elements and typography.
- First, take the shot.
Usually, the native camera app is pretty good on most smartphones, so you can use that for taking the picture. However, if you want to get some more advanced controls right from the beginning, you can use an app called VSCO.
VSCO is a comprehensive all-in-one camera app that allows you take the picture in DSLR-style (including manual focus) and make advanced edits, including light and color corrections, straightening and filters.
There are many ways you can use the VSCO app, from the basic editing features to the more advanced controls like adjusting the ISO, manually selecting the shutter speed, setting the white balance and manual focus, all of which allow greater flexibility than the native camera app.
You can continue to use VSCO to edit your image or use a different app called Snapseed (Android & iPhone). Snapseed offers slightly more advanced editing features (VSCO is particularly good at assisting you in taking the shot) that give you more creative freedom to play with (shadows, midtones and highlights controls), as well as color editing.
Plus, there’s the handy Histogram that assist you in getting the exposure right. Snapseed has another cool feature that lets you select various editing points and apply corrections only to certain portions of the image.
Snapseed is also useful in removing objects you don’t want in the picture. The tool is like an eraser that eliminates stuff that you don’t want in the shot, such as branches, wires, stains, etc.
You can do all your image editing in Snapseed or take a step further and mix it up a bit with another app called Afterlight. This app is known for its terrific textures, frames and filters. So after you’re done editing the light, color and exposure, you can turn over to Afterlight for more cool layers of filters and effects.
Another tweak you can make is perspective correction. It’s a fact that the wide lens on many of the smartphones is creating all kinds of perspective distortions that don’t look so cool. What you can do is use an app called SKRWT to easily correct those distortions and have a really good end result.
- Add typography and designs.
Depending on your niche, you can spice up your Instagram feed with a few quote images. They work great, people love them and they’re very effective in carrying various calls-to-action, asking questions, running polls and more.
The good news is you don’t have to use complicated software or even Canva to create these cool images. You can even use the ones you already have, make some tweaks, add some design elements and you’re done.
I’m going to share with you a few apps that are very easy to use right from your phone. You don’t need to have any kind of design knowledge, just use your creativity and mix things up to get the results you like.
Typorama is an iPhone app that lets you add different design elements to an image. Open the app and select a background from their library. Next, load the image into the app and double tap to add a text (quote, question, call to action, etc.).
You can prepare your text in advance by pasting it into a notepad document or just use Evernote. Either way, make sure you have the text ready when launching the app.
Once your text is pasted in the app, you can browse through their many fonts until you find one that works for you. When you’re done, you can either share the image on Instagram or save it in your phone’s gallery and make a few more tweaks.
I mentioned that Typorama is for iPhones, so here’s a similar app for Android users. It’s called Phonto and it does pretty much the same thing: adds nice typography to your images. Open the app, pick an image from your gallery, add your text and choose from their fonts library.
- Create a process for your Instagram workflow.
If you’re instagramming just for fun, then you don’t need to worry about posting fresh content on a consistent basis. But what do you do when you want to put up 3-5 images a day? You need a system, pretty much like an editorial calendar for your blog (you do have an editorial calendar for your blog, right?).
This is where Later (formerly known as Latergramme) comes in handy. This app lets you systematize and schedule your content in one sitting. Why you need that? First, because Instagram only allows images to be shared from your phone. You can’t share images like you would on Facebook, right from a desktop computer.
So what Later does is it lets you create a database of content ready to go live and all you need to do is select the images, add the tags, descriptions and set the date and time when you want them to be published.
When the time comes, the app will send you a pop-up message on your phone to remind you of the image that needs to go live. You simply press “Post” and you’re done. Just make sure you set the right time zone when you install the app on your device.
Another thing you can do is manage your audience (e.g. follow who follows you, unfollow unfollowers, add your competition’s fans, etc.). You can do all these things and more with an app called Crowdfire.
Building an Instagram presence is not so daunting, if you work smart, create a process, use simple tools and keep things simple. You can start experimenting with these tools, see how they work for you and you can add or remove some of them from your workflow, based on the results you’re looking for.